Suicide Awareness Month

She decided that this was the day. She wrote in her note “There is no way I can continue to live like this. No one will miss me when I’m gone.”  Then, she hung herself. Her husband and children found her lifeless body.
About 120 people will complete suicide today. That’s about 44,000 people a year who decide to end their lives. They will leave behind family and friends who will struggle to understand why she/he decided to end their life and what they, as loved ones, could have, should have, or would have done had they known that person felt so strongly that death was the only way out.
Most people don’t think there are many warning signs, but in all likelihood, there were missed signs. Sometimes they are subtle– someone appears a bit depressed or sad; sometimes they are more obvious–engaging in dangerous behaviors or even making verbal or written threats. Most people who complete suicide don’t really want to die; they just want to end their pain.
September is Suicide Awareness Month and this Saturday, September 10th is Suicide Awareness Day–marked with the credo ‘Take a minute, change a life.’ As members of our community, it is our responsibility to look out for those who may be struggling, to check in with them, and to encourage them to tell their story in their own way and at their own pace. Offering a gentle word of support and listening in a non-judgmental way can make all the difference.
People who have survived a suicide attempt can teach us about how the words and actions of others are important.  Often they share about how they reached the point where they could see no alternative but to end their own life. When they speak about the days, hours,and minutes leading up to this, they often describe how they knewthey didn’t want to die, but instead wanted someone to intervene and stop them.  Many say that they actively sought someone who would sense their despair and ask them whether they were okay!
Some say that they made a pact with themselves that if someone did ask if they were okay, they would tell them everything and allow them to intervene. Sadly, they often say that no one asked.
There is no single cause to suicide. It most often occurs when stressful events exceed a person’s ability to cope. If there is anyone you are concerned about, take a minute to check in with them. It could change their life.
The National Suicide Hotline is available 24/7 at 1-800.273.TALK (8255).

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